CommLaw Monitor News and analysis from Kelley Drye’s communications practice group Wed, 12 Jun 2024 02:43:46 -0400 60 hourly 1 FCC Highlights Reallocating the 5.9 GHz Band at November Open Meeting Tue, 17 Nov 2020 17:35:47 -0500 Headlining the FCC’s next open meeting, scheduled for November 18 is an item to adopt proposed rules to reallocate the 5.9 GHz band. The FCC would repurpose the lower 45 megahertz of the band for unlicensed use, while retaining the upper portion of the band for Intelligent Transportation Systems (“ITS”) operations and transitioning to Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (“C-V2X”) technology. The Commission plans to seek additional comment on proposed technical rules for outdoor unlicensed use and on implementation timelines for transitioning to C-V2X. The November meeting will also consider two satellite items. The FCC plans to streamline its satellite licensing rules by creating an optional unified license system for satellite and earth station operations, and will propose a new allocation in the 17 GHz band for Fixed Satellite Service (“FSS”) space-to-Earth downlinks. Additionally, the Commission will propose expanding the contribution base for the Telecommunications Relay Services (“TRS”) Fund.

FCC regulatory will likely slow in the aftermath of the election and with an upcoming change in Administration. However, the Commission tees up two new rulemaking proceedings with the November agenda, signaling that the FCC may still be moving forward with policy initiatives going into a transition period. You will find more details on the most significant November meeting items after the break:

Reallocating the 5.9 GHz Band: The draft First Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order of Proposed Modification (“FNPRM”) would adopt rules to repurpose the 5.9 GHz (5.850-5.925 GHz) band. The Order would repurpose 45 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.850-5.895 GHz portion of the band for unlicensed use and allow for immediate unlicensed indoor operations. It would designate the upper 30 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.895-5.925 GHz band for ITS service, and require ITS operations to cease operations in the lower portion of the band within one year of the Order’s effective date. The Commission would also require the transition of the ITS radio service standard from Dedicated Short-Range Communications (“DSRC”) technology to C-V2X technology. The FNPRM would propose technical rules for outdoor unlicensed operations in the 5.850-5.895 GHz band once ITS operations have transitioned out of this portion of the band, and would seek comment on the implementation timelines and technical parameters for transitioning all ITS operations in the revised ITS band to C-V2X-based technology.

Further Streamlining of Satellite Regulations: The draft Report and Order would streamline the Commission’s satellite licensing rules by creating an optional framework for authorizing space stations and blanket-licensed earth stations through a unified license. The unified license would be available to systems operating above 10 GHz, and would eliminate redundancies in the separate licensing process and accelerate new earth station deployment. The FCC would streamline application requirements by allowing applicants to certify compliance with satellite licenses and would eliminate certain reporting requirements. The Order would additionally align buildout periods for qualifying earth stations and the satellites with which they communicate to allow for increased coordination.

Facilitating Next Generation Satellite Services in the 17 GHz Band: The draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) would propose to allow use of the 17.3-17.7 GHz band by geostationary satellite orbit (“GSO”) space stations in the FSS in the space-to Earth (downlink) direction on a co-primary basis with incumbent services, aimed at increasing use and efficiency of the 17 GHz band. The Commission would propose to permit limited GSO FSS use of the 17.7-17.8 GHz band on a non-protected basis for fixed service operations. The NPRM would additionally propose technical parameters for an extended Ka-band, and would propose to apply certain uplink power limits to GSO FSS uplink transmissions in the extended Ka-band to protect GSO FSS space stations from interference.

Expanding the Contribution Base for Accessible Communications Services: The draft NPRM would propose to amend the Commission’s rules to update the funding mechanism for the TRS Fund, and expand the contribution base for Internet-based TRS to Video Relay Service (“VRS”) and Internet Protocol (“IP”) Relay Service. The FCC would propose to expand the contribution base for these services to include intrastate revenues from telecommunications carriers and VoIP service providers. The NPRM would propose to calculate these TRS Fund payments to support VRS and IP Relay by applying a single contribution factor for all three Internet-based services to a contributor’s total end-user revenues, combining both intrastate and interstate revenues. The Commission would seek comment on its implementation proposals and on any alternative approaches for the contribution calculation.

DoT Announces “Smart City” Challenge to Increase Infrastructure Efficiency in Urban Areas Sun, 13 Dec 2015 23:46:41 -0500 On December 7, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for “Beyond Traffic: The Smart City Challenge,” the first in a two-part solicitation for a federally funded program aimed at developing “a holistic, integrated approach to improving surface transportation performance within a city and integrating this approach to improving smart city domains such as public safety, public services, and energy.” DOT will award $40 million to one mid-sized city that demonstrates how it will use the funds to address challenges such as congestion, safety, climate change, and improving connections with underserved communities. Broadband providers that are considering deploying or expanding their networks in mid-sized cities may want to consider partnering with an eligible applicant to use some of the funds to either deploy new broadband infrastructure or add increased capacity to the existing network to accommodate new technology such as connected cars. Initial applications for this grant opportunity are due on February 4, 2016. DOT will then narrow the field to five finalists, and make a selection in June 2016.

The Smart City Challenge began in response to a prediction that the U.S. population will increase by over 70 million people in the next 30 years, with growth occurring most rapidly in metropolitan areas or cities. This means that cities will need to find ways to alleviate pressure on their already strained infrastructure systems, including transportation channels. The Smart City Challenge aims to act as a catalyst to this process. It focuses on emerging technologies such as Intelligent Transportation Systems, connected vehicle technologies, and automated vehicles as a way to “make moving people and goods safer, more efficient, and more secure.” For instance, the NOFO suggests that by deploying connected vehicle technology, providing real-time traveler information, and implementing advanced technology and policies to promote sustainability, a Smart City could improve transportation safety, enhance mobility throughout a metropolitan area, and tackle climate change issues. DOT hopes that cities can leverage a more efficient transportation system to improve “mobility, sustainability, and livability for citizens and businesses, and greatly increase the attractiveness and competitiveness of cities and regions.”

The Smart City Challenge is open to State and local governments, tribal governments, transit agencies and authorities, public toll authorities, metropolitan planning organizations, other subdivisions of a State or local government, or a combination of any of the above. While private companies are not eligible to apply directly, we encourage you to partner with one or more eligible entities to develop and deploy some of the advanced technologies envisioned in the NOFO.

Although not expressly required, the NOFO indicates that the ideal Smart City would have certain attributes, including the following: a population between 250,000 and 800,000 people, a dense urban population, and an existing public transportation system.

The award decisions for the challenge will occur in two stages. In the first stage, DOT will review all applications and select five finalists, each of which will receive a $100,000 Concept Development award to allow them to further develop their Smart City proposals. DOT will then select one winner to receive a $40 million award to implement its plan.

If you are interested in learning more about the Smart City Challenge, forming a partnership, or exploring other federal funding opportunities for broadband, please contact Jennifer Holtz at [email protected] or any member of the Communications Practice Group.